Getting away from it all is a mantra for the masses. Enough of this urban sprawl! An end to concrete Babylon! Give me freedom, give me space, give me... Takoradi!
Finally, after a seven hour flight and a questionable landing, touchdown on African soil occured at 5.20am. Baggage collection was a somewha terrifying experience, as it took 30minutes for my bag to finally appear (despite checking into LHR 5 hours early !) - I would advise future travellers to adopt the relaxed Ghanaian attitude as soon as they step off the plane to save this kind of avoidable distress. After barging my way though customs - queuing really is limited to the British - I nervously awaited the arrival of our contact, Christopher, who would escort me to the STC terminal. Sadly, perhaps due to a communication error as my Ghanaian sim card had not been set up yet, I could not find him and, when the clock struck 7.00am, I decided to venture out alone.
You'll need to have some savvy here and must stick to your guns concerning price, as the taxi drivers will try to charge an "obruni" 4x as much as they should - for example, from Accra airport to the STC termnal, I was offered numerous fares for 28 cedi (which equates to roughly 13GBP) when realistically the taxi should have only cost 7 cedi, according to locals. After protesting my innocence and declaring I only had only 10 cedi to my name, I was directed across the road to what appeared to be a public car park and finally managed to negotiate a taxi for 10 cedi. For those of a more nervous nature, I'd advise you to look straight ahead when in public and not pay too much attention !
At the STC station, purchasing a ticket is as easy as stating your name and destination at the ticket office (a ticket from Accra to Takoradi costs a mere 9 cedi). You must then have your luggage weighed, report this figure to the second desk and show them your ticket - they will then produce a luggage label to match your ticket, which you should firmly attach to your suitcase. I was shocked at how cheap the luggage allowance is - for my 24kg suitcase, I was charged under 2 cedi. Load your luggage onto the bus - people will be falling over themselves to help you with and will expect a small "dash" (tip) for the trouble. The coaches were extremely comfortable and air conditioned - the only disadvantage was the Nigerian movie playing at full volume for the duration of the trip, which made it near impossible to sleep. It took 4.5 hours to Takoradi and, as the stops are not announced, pay close attention to where the bus stops. It is handy to have a map of central Takoradi (as in the Bradt guide) to show people where you want to get off. A taxi from the STC terminal in Takoradi to APGSS costs 5 cedi.
My arrivial in Takoradi was somewhat unexpected - it appears Louisa did not recieve any of my emails - and she was actually on her way to a funeral in Cape Coast when I arrived. Despite this, I recieved a warm welcome from Louisa's daughter and nieces - who seemed very bemused when I passed my copies of "Cosmopolitan" around ! When Louisa arrived, we had an introductory talk over lunch - a spicy stew with rice, lots of it. Many guidebooks warn the host will be offended if you do not clear your plate, so I struggled through the sizeable portion, only to be presented with another of the same size ! I'm certain to come back a few dress sizes bigger than I left.
Due to my surprise arrival and Louisa's eminent departure, it was decided that I would stay in the Boyboison Lodge until more appropriate arrangements could be made.